Granbury Mayor Nin Hulett was booked early Monday on a third-degree felony charge after city police officials confirmed that a traffic stop near the square in the early morning hours of Sunday, April 25 was his third drunk driving arrest.
A warrant was issued for Hulett on Friday after local authorities had sorted out the particulars of a DWI conviction that occurred in another state 22 years ago. Hulett agreed to turn himself in on Monday and was released after posting $5,000 bond, according to his attorney, Richard Hattox.
No announcement has yet been made as to whether Hulett will resign, or when. The timing of a resignation could mean that the city would have to fund a special election.
The out-of-state DWI arrest occurred on Feb. 8, 1999 when Hulett was pulled over by a state trooper in Jackson County, Missouri. He received a Suspended Imposition of Sentence (SIS), according to a Missouri Department of Public Safety official who spoke to the Hood County News. In Missouri, people who receive an SIS have their records closed if they successfully complete probation, which Hulett did.
But a record that is closed to the public is nevertheless visible to law enforcement, and the conviction remains on a person’s record, the DPS representative explained.
Court records show that Hulett was arrested in Fort Worth on Nov. 9, 2007 and charged with “DWI misdemeanor repetition.” His bond was set at $4,500, and he was found guilty of that offense on April 3, 2008. Hulett was assessed 90 days in jail and 24 months’ probation. He was also fined $550 and assessed court costs of $359.
Also on Hulett’s record is a misdemeanor evading arrest/detention conviction. That incident occurred in Granbury on March 25, 2006. Hulett pleaded not guilty but was convicted by county Court-at-Law Judge Vincent Messina. The judge gave him deferred adjudication and ordered him to pay a $500 fine, plus court costs of $270.
On the current charge, Hulett was arrested shortly after midnight on April 25 in the 600 block of East Pearl Street just hours after the conclusion of that day’s Granbury Wine Walk event. He reportedly had just left a restaurant near the square. Initially charged with a Class B misdemeanor, Hulett bonded out of the Hood County Jail later that morning after posting a bond of $1,000.
A third-degree felony DWI conviction carries significant penalties, including driver’s license suspension and prison time of no less than two years and no more than 10 years. It is possible for most of the sentence to be probated, but there is a required minimum of 10 days in jail.
To receive probation, the person may be required to complete up to 600 hours of community service, attend substance abuse counseling or classes and participate in DWI intervention programs.
Third-degree felonies carry fines up to $10,000. That is in addition to court costs, attorney’s fees and possible costs for an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). An IID is an instrument that is installed in a vehicle that requires the driver to blow into it. If the device detects any alcohol, the vehicle will not start.
Hulett, 68, has been Granbury’s mayor since 2013 and is in his third term.
Although Granbury police issued a warrant for his arrest, it was not entered into the computer system. Commonly referred to as a “pocket warrant,” the writ allows for a person to schedule a time to appear with their attorney and bond person to be processed. The practice is common and is used for people who are not considered to be running or hiding from law enforcement.
Hulett reportedly left town after bonding out of jail the weekend of his arrest but was in communication with authorities.
Hattox provided the following statement to the HCN over the weekend after conferring with his client:
“We have been requested to surrender Mayor Hulett by the senior leadership of the Granbury Police Department for a charge of DWI subsequent offense. We will comply and follow any request they have for us. We ask that each of your readers give their best effort to trust our system of justice and allow us to provide Nin with the respect that he deserves.
“We ask for no more than each of us should expect should we be facing these circumstances. Mayor Hulett is a good man and is serving our community with dignity and pride for our city. Please afford him, his family, and our system your respect and prayers. He deserves our presumption of innocence. As always, I appreciate the professionalism of the Granbury Police Department.”
The Texas Constitution and Granbury’s city charter provide a roadmap for what must happen when an elected official resigns.
If Hulett steps down, Mayor Pro Tem Tony Mobly will take the helm until an election can be held. Mobly was first elected to the City Council in 2015 and has been voted by the council to serve as mayor pro tem every year since 2017.
Mobly’s term for the Place 5 seat is up in November. The mayor’s position was not scheduled to be on the ballot until November 2022, but a resignation would change that. If Hulett steps down or forfeits the seat by missing three consecutive meetings, a special election will have to be held within 120 days.
If Hulett were to remain mayor to within 120 days of the already-scheduled November election, then the city would not have to fund a special election. The mayor’s position would simply be added to that ballot along with the Place 5 seat and the Place 3 seat currently held by Bruce Wadley.
Mobly was planning to seek re-election, but if he wants to serve as mayor if Hulett departs, he will have to resign from his current position.